On Thursday, Governor Maggie Hassan appeared before the Senate Finance committee to address the state's current fiscal crisis and discussed her Executive Order freezing out of state travel paid for with general funds. This request is coming just prior to a trip the Governor is taking to Turkey next month.
Matthew Murphy, Executive Director at Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, contacted DRED last week to inquire how much money from the general fund would be utilized for Governor Hassan's trip to Turkey. In an email response, DRED's Communications and Legislative Director informed our organization that "a total of $15,000 was set aside out of the general fund for the staff expense related to the Turkey Trade mission, taking place June 20-27."
As a result of this email communication, Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire has filed Right to Know requests with the Governor's Office and with the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) today about the Governor's upcoming trade mission to Turkey in June to confirm that general funds will in fact be used for this trip contrary to her Executive Order.
Text from the Right to Know request is below:
Under the New Hampshire Right to Know Law R.S.A. 91 Ch. 01-A et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records that relate to the International Trade Mission to Turkey scheduled to take place on June 20th-27th, 2014 Headed by Governor Hassan. Specifically we would like the following information;
- Who will be part of the trade mission?
- What is the total cost of this trade mission and how are these costs paid for and the source of these funds. For example: federal grants, state funds and their source within state budget, and any other sources that are funding this trade mission.
- What restrictions are placed on the funds used to pay for this mission?
- What departments funds will be used to pay for this trade mission and are these funds part of the general fund budget for the Department of Resources and Economic Development?
If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform me if the cost will exceed $50. However, I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public's understanding of this trade mission.
Like most Granite Staters, we understand the importance of expanding international trade and attracting businesses to invest in New Hampshire. We also certainly support curtailing wasteful spending. However, considering her upcoming costly trip to Turkey, it is a more than fair to inquire whether Governor Maggie Hassan's Executive Order banning all out of state travel funding is nothing more than political posturing. Considering new information we have uncovered thus far from DRED, there is more than enough evidence to request additional facts.
Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire is anxiously awaiting a response from the Governor's Office and DRED regarding this matter. We will update you on their responses as we receive them.